November 13, 2010

Big Green imposes its agenda — with or without Congress

FROM-Washington Examiner
By: Ron Arnold

We learned earlier this week in The Washington Examiner about Natural Resources Defense Council Chairman Frances Beinecke instructing House Republicans not to listen to folks who voted them in on a “cresting wave of economic ire,” but to only impose the enviro agenda.
She ended with the steely warning, “We are going to get there with Congress or without Congress.” How does Big Green deliver on big talk like that?

Shortly before Republicans won the bloodiest midterm election victory in living memory, 12-term Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio worried that his bid for a 13th term might fall to Republican opponent Art Robinson and cresting economic ire.

His timber-rich 4th District once held vibrant communities of loggers earning high wages. But when the spotted owl was protected by the Endangered Species Act in 1989, you couldn’t cut trees, and 15,000 loggers and mill workers found themselves jobless.

That demonstrated that Big Green had its Bigger Hammer; thereafter, greens flocked to court to stop everything with the Endangered Species Act.

So how could DeFazio convince voters today that he was pro-jobs? He invited Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to promise Oregon voters that help was on the way to free up those untouchable trees. He did so exactly one week before Election Day.

Douglas County — unemployment 15.4 percent — cheered when DeFazio introduced Salazar. The two met with public officials, timber company leaders and greenie groups, who told the secretary there had to be a way to provide jobs and a steady timber supply to keep their once prosperous communities from end-stage poverty.

Salazar pledged to find a way to increase logging after two decades of gridlocked spotted owl lawsuits on 2.4 million acres of Bureau of Land Management forest in Oregon. He even invited the whole bunch to his Washington office in mid-November to pinpoint forest lands for an innovative pilot project. Everybody had high hopes.

Twenty-four hours later, Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center and Kristen Boyles from the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit to stop a timber sale by the BLM on behalf of three Oregon green groups, all funded by similar foundation grants.

George Sexton, of challenger Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, told an Ashland Daily Tidings reporter, “This is certainly not a slap directed at Salazar.”

Then Sexton told an Earthjustice blogger, “With Secretary Salazar in Oregon to contemplate the future of our forests, we want him to hear loud and clear that his agency should get itself out of the old-growth logging business.”
Slap! So much for cutting trees.

How does Big Green do it? They lie. And hope you don’t know certain things. Brown, lead attorney, was staff counsel for DeFazio from 2007 to 2009.

While a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, her professional bio bragged, “Susan Jane has been litigating timber sales since 2000. Due in large part to her efforts, the logging levels on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest have declined 96 percent since 1997.”

The 1.3 million-acre Gifford Pinchot National Forest covers four counties of Washington state. Brown sent the average unemployment rate in those counties soaring from about 8.5 percent to 14.7 percent.

DeFazio knew about Brown’s litigating timber sales when he hired her in Washington. He also hired extremist David Dreher as legislative aide in 2000, now with the Pew-funded Campaign for America’s Wilderness. DeFazio’s office is practically an incubator for radicals.

On Election Day, DeFazio beat Robinson by 9 points. That took the monkey was off his back because it was not he but Salazar who had made those logging promises that won’t be kept. Because of lawyers like Brown.

Some might say DeFazio is a walking Potemkin village. And Big Green’s most important product is still unemployment

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